Biotech News Out of Quebec

houseplantMedicago, a Canadian company focused on protein-based vaccines, has signed a contract with the U.S. Army to investigate ways to create biofuels from plants.  Medicago will work with the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center on the production of  industrial enzymes, which speed up chemical reactions. The current market for industrial enzymes is an estimated $4 billion, but industrial enzymes tend to be too costly for regular use.  Medicago aims to produce more affordable enzymes to aid in producing renewable energy. 

The Quebec City-based company is best known for its protein-based vaccines derived from plants such as tobacco. In August, Medicago announced plans to begin Phase I trials on an H5N1 avian influenza vaccine. Data from the trial is expected in the fourth quarter of 2009. The company aims to complete all clinical trials by the end of 2012, and to obtain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by 2013. Medicago is also developing a vaccine for the H1N1 swine flu virus.

In other news from Quebec, the province will invest $123 million in local pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.  Approximately half of the country’s pharmaceutical industry is based in Quebec, and 145 biotech companies are based in the province. The funding will be used to support biotech companies and encourage partnerships with universities. Fierce Biotech reports that the biotech industry in Quebec has been struggling in recent months due to the economic crisis.

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